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The phone rang at around 7.30 in the evening.
"Yep what?"
"Just bloody be here at lunch time!"
"You bloody know where"
"What's happening?"
"Don't be so bloody nosy...just be here."
"What'll I bring?"
"You know."
and that was the extent of the conversation.

To an eavesdropper the call could have conjured up untold images of all sorts of criminal activity when in actual fact it was just my cousin Darren letting me know that he had gained permission to hunt on one of the local properties that he occasionally worked on.
His brother was arriving from Australia on the weekend and a barbecue was planned therefore a bit of venison was required.
This being a Thursday evening, things were going to be a bit touch and go as to the likelihood of being able to guarantee getting a deer....but that's never stopped us before I guess so why should this trip be any different. I contacted my friend Bob, another good keen man, to see if he'd be interested in coming along for a walk, which of course he was. Bob likes to come along just for the walk and the scenery, which by the way is always something quite special, and as it so happened was on holiday anyway. So it was into the gun cupboard to sort out ammunition, guns etc.
I rummaged around in the cupboard, pulled out the 6.5 and the S.K.S but couldn't decide which beast to take. I knew Bob would take his SKS and thought perhaps I'll take mine as well. Naaa..what if I need to take a long range shot? The 6.5 is probably the better choice although it still needed to be sighted in after I'd changed the 4x32 scope on it to a 3-9 vari-power.
I continued to rummage around in the cupboard and couldn't find any 6.5 ammo so the SKS was looking like it was gonna be making the trip after all. Where did I put the damn 6.5 ammo? I was sure that I had a full packet after returning from a goat hunt a couple of weeks earlier. Perhaps a cup of coffee and a bit of thinking would turn up the 6.5 ammo.
Half an hour later it still hadn't magically appeared so I jumped into the car and shot over to another mates place to load up a few rounds.
It only took a few minutes to load 20 rounds and then it was off home to finish sorting out the rest of my gear. Anyone would think we were going on a week long trip into the Kaimanawas instead of a comfortable one hour drive north!
I finally decided that because the SKS had been sighted in and was pretty smack on I'd take it as well as the 6.5, just in case I had a change of heart after we arrived at Darrens place.
I was keen to get the 6.5 sighted in anyway and maybe Darren would need a gun. I was wondering if Bob was so methodical in his preparations?. With me being a collector of camouflage uniforms and camo clothing in general my next dilemma was going to be "what shall I wear?"
We'd be travelling by car to Darrens and then on a quad on the farm....Easy...I'll throw in a pair of Auscam trou, a pair of shorts, a thermal top, a South African Railway Police camo sweatshirt, Realtree polarfleece trou, canvas gaiters, Realtree home-made bush shirt, Woodland camo M-65 Field Jacket, spare gruts, socks, and my Photo Stalk camo vest....good thinking really because you never know, perhaps Darren needed some camo as well. (Yeah right!!)
Gumboots should suffice for footwear...but I chucked in my leather hunting boots as well...just in case!
I have often mentioned to cousin Darren that he should have a few bit's of camo so that he can at least look the part, to which his answer is almost always the same..."who the $#%% needs all that shit. The *$$$%% deer can't see the bloody stuff anyway!!'ll be to $**%&% hot!!
His standard hunting attire consists of red or white singlet and light blue or black shorts.
Occasionally he'll wear boots but more often than not it's the good old Samoan safety boots. (Jandels)
So at last I'm finally organised!!
Bob arrived at 10am the following morning and after stowing all the gear in the boot and back of his car we set off. The drive up the Paraparas was an uneventful affair and we made good time, arriving at Darrens at around 11am.
Bob and I were pretty much ready to move out, but Darren had a dog cage to finish welding as well as a few other chores.
Besides, he told us "it's too $%***% hot to go anywhere yet! we'll wait for it to cool down a bit. We'll cruise up later on when it's a bit $%&**$ cooler."
The tea and coffee that Darrens wife made us was very welcome and after finishing this, I suggested to Darren that it might be a good time to nip down into the paddock and check the accuracy of our weapons.
We unloaded the arsenal from the boot of Bobs car and proceeded to make our way down into a gully that ran alongside Darrens house.
I told Darren that we'd need a target and he walked off into the long grass and reappeared with an old black bucket and proceeded to place it on a pile of old macrocarpa branches and cuttings.
In extremely colourful language we were informed that "this would do the job nicely".
At a range of approximately 80 metres I pulled out the legs of the Harris bipod and
chambered a round into the breech of the 6.5 and lined up on the bucket.
With the scope wound up to 9x the shot did not register anywhere on Darrens lovely black target so we all walked down to take a look. A good clean miss. "Makeloven hell" said Darren " makelove your bloody useless, makeloven deer are gonna be makeloven safe today!!".
The target was a bit to small so some clean slabs of macrocarpa that had been sawn and left to dry were placed around the bucket to give an indication of where the rifle was shooting.
The second shot was high and to the left...and the expected barrage of encouragement was fast in coming. After a few more shots and heaps more encouragement it was shooting to my liking
and it was now Bobs chance to test his synthetic stocked, bipod and scope wearing SKS.
There were no problems here, as he had lined his up the previous week in Wanganui.
His 5 test rounds all found their mark within a 20cm circle. I put a few rounds through my SKS and we were done.

Darren and his oldest son Josh put the finishing touches to his dogcrate, watched intensely and given great encouragement by Bob and myself.
I thought I'd have a bash at this welding caper and no sooner had I picked up the
handle and I was told to "leave the makeloven thing alone you tutu!! You'll"
guessed it.... "makelove it up!! Anyway, it's about time we went".

carefully scouring the hillsides and intermitent patches of bush

We loaded the gear we wanted into Darrens Subaru, which wasn't all that much because as usual Darren wore shorts and a singlet in brilliant city camo (WHITE singlet and BLUE shorts!) We hooked on the trailer with the Big Bear 4x4 and drove the 10km to the property we were to hunt. We stopped in at the shepherds house to ask if he'd seen any animals handy but he hadn't.....except the one that I was watching through my scope about 300 metres away across a gully directly opposite his kitchen window. We slowly made our way along typically rough farm tracks, carefully scouring the hillsides and intermitent patches of bush for any sign of deer. It had been decided that, because Bob had yet to take an animal of any kind with his flash new SKS, it was his duty to bag the venison for the barbecue.
As we were riding up a relatively steep zigzagging track I motioned for Darren to stop. because down in the gully, around 400 metres to our right I could see 3 fallow deer, their chestnut coloured skins glowing brightly in the late afternoon sun.
A shot for Bob at that range was out of the question so we left them to their feeding and carried on upwards. Bob and I had been given firm instructions that the animal required was to be the biggest one we could find with the extra stipulation being that it was not to be too makeloven far either up or down any hills. The colours thrown into these verbal descriptions by Darren made the beautiful green hillsides pale in comparison.
When we reached the top of the hill we stopped and glassed the gullies on either side for any signs of more deer. None were seen so we passed through a couple thistle infested gateways and stopped once again.
I walked ahead about 10 metres and peered over the right hand side of the hill and immediately saw 3 deer, about 60 metres away, sunning themselves in a large area that they had cleared in a ginormous thistle patch. These deer were smart enough to know that any one coming uphill toward them would have had no show of seeing them and even less chance of shooting them, but they hadn't counted on 3 lazy bike riding hunters to appear above them. I motioned to Bob to come take a look. Darren asked "how far down are they?

After finally managing to get myself over an electric fence that someone had thoughtlessly placed right on the edge of the bank above the creek, I reached the sheep yards and sat down and watched Bob, still persuing his deer but obviously not having much luck. Darkness wasn't far off and I could hear Darren coming down the track we had left him on.
When he reached me he asked "where the makeloven hell is Bob!?" I pointed to the hills on the left and the long darkening shadows that covered them suddenly turned into brilliant almost flouresant colours.
I told Darren that I would nip down the gully in front of us and see if I could pick up one of the deer from in the first group of 3 that we had seen earlier from on the bike. I motored into the gully and then carefully crawled up onto a small knob. As I peered over I saw 1, 2, 3 - a mob of 14 deer feeding peacefully on the other side.I carefully pulled out the legs of the bipod and searched through the scope for the biggest deer I could see. After a few minutes of careful looking I finally settled on a large stag about 100 metres away.
They had no idea that I was there, even though in the background I could hear Darren whispering loudly "what the makelove are you doing??"
I settled in to take the shot but 2 other deer had worked their way in behind the stag I wanted. We only wanted one deer not 3, which is what we would have had if I had fired at that point. Through my scope I could see these three deer, one behind the other, top and tailed, and the point of impact with my cross-hairs would have seen my bullet pass through the necks of all three.
It was just a matter of HURRY UP AND WAIT.
My stag finally moved far enough away from the other two to allow me to take a shot.
The 129grn projectile from the 6.5 dropped him in his tracks. The area became bedlam, with all the other deer running directly toward me! I yelled to Darren "are you sure you only want one?"
"Yep" was his reply. As soon as I stood up the deer closest to me stopped in their tracks and backtracked even faster. They all quickly disappeared in to the bush on the other side of the gully.
"I hope I can get the makeloven bike to it you useless child without a father!!"
Try as he might however, the quad was never going to get anywhere near the deer. I dragged it a bit closer but it was a pointless task. Darren and I gutted it and then dragged it the 20 metres or so up the hill to where he would be able to get the quad.
It was almost dark now and there had been no sound or sight of Bob since we'd seen him at the top of the hill on the other side of the gully.
After a few calls, he was located directly opposite where I had shot the deer and arrangements were made for him to meet us down the bottom of the gully where we had first come in.
Darren and I secured the stag on the quad and set of to pick Bob up.
When we arrived at the pre-arranged point there was no sign of our mate. Darren thought that he may have just carried on walking, so after calling a bit, we also carried on, with the thought that we'd pick him up along the way. We were about half way back to where we had left the car and still had not come across Bob.

The 6.5 dropped him in his tracks.

"Surely the makeloven rearend can't have gotten all the way out to the makelovin car"! Darren exclaimed. I didn't know what to make of it either but we carried on. At 1/8 of the way back we decided to turn around and backtrack in case Bob had hurt himself or something.It was now pitch black and the small light on the quad was having trouble lighting a decent area in front of us.
The night became a beautiful multi coloured spectrum of colour every foot of the way
back along that track as Darren gave vivid descriptions of how nice a person our mate
Bobby was.
After searching for about half an hour or more we decided to go back to the car, dump our gear and then rethink our strategy for locating our mate.
I rode the quad over to the shepherds house while Darren followed in the car.
I had no sooner pulled up at the shepherds house when I spied, hidden in the shadows beside the house, our mate, cuppa tea in hand and none the worse for our ordeal.
Darren was so pleased to think that we didn't have to go back out looking for him that
the normal coloured language that I thought would be forthcoming did not eventuate...well nothing to mention anyway.
The Farm Manager called to invite us in for a drink, which we gladly accepted after which we made our way back to Darrens place, where his wife, had laid on a delicious meal of bacon and egg hamburgers and cups of hot tea.
After skinning the stag and saying our farewells it was a nice relaxing drive back into Wanganui, which we reached an hour later....2.30am.
All in all it was a grand expedition..

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